University of California

Improving pumping plant efficiency does not always save energy


Blaine R. Hanson

Author Affiliations

B.R. Hanson is Extension Irrigation and Drainage Specialist, Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, UC Davis.

Publication Information

Hilgardia 56(4):123-127. DOI:10.3733/ca.v056n04p123. July 2002.

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California's energy crisis in 2001 resulted in a state-funded program for testing irrigation pumps and improving pumping plant efficiency, with the goal of reducing energy use in California agriculture. Yet in reality, improving pumping plant efficiency may not actually translate into savings. To reduce electrical energy use, the kilowatt-hours must decrease because of fewer kilowatts or less operating time, or both. In order to evaluate the efficiency of various energy-improving adjustments, we studied several operations at pumping plants in the San Joaquin Valley. These included adjusting impellers, repairing worn pumps, replacing mismatched pumps and using more energy-efficient motors. We found that adjusting or repairing worn pumps may actually increase energy use, unless the operating time of the pumping plant is reduced. Multiple pump tests of a pumping plant are recommended, to help evaluate possible reasons for low efficiency. Pumping plant operators should also obtain the manufacturer's performance curves to use in the evaluation process.


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Hanson B. 2002. Improving pumping plant efficiency does not always save energy. Hilgardia 56(4):123-127. DOI:10.3733/ca.v056n04p123
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